Anti-war protesters rally in Uptown

The Obama administration is considering troop increase in Afghanistan.

by Mike Mullen

More than 200 demonstrators shut down Hennepin Avenue on Saturday afternoon for an anti-war demonstration. The crowd proceeded peacefully toward Loring Park as police cars, slow-moving traffic and supportive bystanders looked on. The rally, organized by the Iraq Peace Action Coalition, called upon President Barack ObamaâÄôs administration to fully withdraw troops from Afghanistan. âÄúWe are at the exact same point we were at in Vietnam in 1968,âÄù IPAC activist Gary Prevost told the crowd. Earlier this month, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of American and allied forces in Afghanistan, made a formal request to Obama and his national security team for as many as 60,000 additional troops for the effort in Afghanistan. According to The New York Times, several officials have said the troop increase may be even larger. ObamaâÄôs Senior Adviser David Axelrod recently told an audience in Lincoln, Neb., that the president is still in the process of deciding what to do in Afghanistan. âÄúI think we all ought to be grateful that, on a matter of this gravity, we have a president who is giving real thought to the right way forward,âÄù Axelrod said. The Minneapolis rally crowd included a wide range of issues, hairstyles and ages. Prevost said that since the build up to the Iraq war, the anti-war movement has included a combination of Vietnam protest veterans, like himself, and student activists from the University of Minnesota. One of the young organizers was Stephanie Taylor, an activist with Students for a Democratic Society. Taylor, who graduated from the University last spring, said that groups have recently seized upon economic trouble to bring home the cost of foreign engagement. âÄúI think itâÄôs really becoming a forefront to the anti-war movement,âÄù Taylor said. âÄúNot only is it an unjust war, but we canâÄôt [expletive] afford it.âÄù Domestic, economic and healthcare concerns have overwhelmed attention paid to the war; in his June and July press conferences, Obama did not hear a single question about Afghanistan. Prevost said SaturdayâÄôs rally probably included many more Obama supporters than the number of Bush voters at previous rallies. But the different sympathies of this crowd did not leave him more hopeful. âÄúIâÄôm not very optimistic that thereâÄôs going to be a decision immediately that meets what we want, which is to withdraw from Afghanistan,âÄù Prevost said.